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New Brookfield location allows Pierce ABA to expand services for kids with autism; 'Give hope'

The Middletown Press - 2/23/2024

Feb. 22—BROOKFIELD — Without resources such as Pierce ABA to help her navigate her son Owen's needs, Tiffany Sands said she would be lost in raising a child with autism.

"I think the autism community is such an underserved group of kids," the Newtown mother said. "There's not enough out there about what autism can look like, and Tiva (Pierce) has just showed us Owen is not a stereotypical kid with autism."

Tiva Pierce opened Pierce ABA in Seymour with her co-founder Brandi Cedeno last April, providing Applied Behavior Analysis therapy and other services to children with autism. Pierce ABA expanded earlier this month, opening its second location on Federal Road in Brookfield.

"There's always more and more kids that need help and services," Pierce said.

ABA therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior; it is used to help children with autism apply their understanding of how behavior works to real situations, according to the Autism Speaks website. The goal is to teach children with autism a variety of new and helpful behaviors while diminishing problem behaviors, including ones that are harmful or affect a child's learning, Pierce said.

Pierce ABA also offers clinical or home-based therapy, social groups, one-to-one family guidance and reviews of individualized education plans, among other services, according to its website.

In addition to serving children with HUSKY Health, or low-income insurance, Pierce said she's looking forward to working with the area's bilingual population.

"Brookfield was picked because we knew that Danbury had a very high population of HUSKY Health students that weren't getting services," said Pierce, a resident of Patterson, N.Y. "I also wanted to make sure we were in the middle of Danbury and Newtown because Newtown has a large population of underserved kids."

Sands, whose son Owen receives in-home services from Pierce ABA, said Pierce has been guiding the family every step of the way.

"There's already enough stress raising a child," Sands said, "and then you throw a kid with needs in there and it's even more stressful. ... Tiva is holding my hand and making sure we get everything we need for Owen."

'Give families hope'

Pierce's passion started with her own experiences with a family member with autism.

"When I was younger, I had a cousin with autism," she said. "And I went away to the Army Reserve as an army medic. I came back and sat in during the applied behavioral analysis session at my aunt's house and it was love at first sight — I got to see my cousin speak. She said 'Mom' for the first time and she was 6 years old."

Pierce, who has a master of education and a doctorate in applied behavioral analysis, founded the company Springtide Child Development — which provides medical care with behavioral and development therapies to children and adolescents with autism and other brain disorders — in Trumbull in 2019. Pierce left Springtide Child Development in 2021 to launch Pierce ABA, which opened last April.

Helping families gives meaning to her career in working with children with autism and their families, she said.

"Normally when families get this diagnosis, they believe the world is over, their child is never going to be typical," Pierce said. "It's nice to give families hope again."


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